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Lifestyle

The Local Tastemakers Doing Things Differently

Eight future big shots in fashion, music and the arts tell Keng Yang Shuen how they want to change the world.

Aiwei Foo (right) & Wangxian Tan – The“Food Artists”

aiwei foo and wangxian tan

Tan (left) wears cotton T-shirt and pants, Cos, and his own shoes. Foo wears her own clothes and accessories. Photography Tan Wei Te Styling Adeline Eng.

At their events, guests might be treated to a German breakfast spread, wholesome pastries lovingly baked by Foo, or Chinese teas brewed with water sourced from Japan. They’re no trendy pop-up restaurateurs or private dining chefs though. In fact, their focus isn’t on the grub, but the human interaction and introspection that take place. Says Foo: “Many of us have become socially disengaged due to the rapid advancement of (technology) in our lives. (Using food) as a medium, we hope to bring people together and create the need to bridge connections again.” Both known multi-disciplinary artists, the two have partnered on conceptual experiences that incorporate food and blur the lines between art and lifestyle since 2017. (Their first saw them transform a studio into a makeshift teahouse with refreshments served in bowls – handmade by ceramicist Ivan Lee – floating in a tank of water.) In May, they officially launched The Picnic, an outfit set to offer more of such thought-provoking fare including Advanced Dining, an “exploratory concept of a peculiar and futuristic approach to dining” at Telok Ayer Arts Club next month.

Saara Sihvonen – Model Realist-Slash-Mentor

future tastemakers

Sihvonen wears her own clothes. Photo Courtesy of Ryan Conduit.

At 27, this Finnish model is already a veteran who still regularly scores covers with top global magazines and walks the runway for brands like Saint Laurent – and she thinks a lot more needs to be done to educate and protect models. Enter WITHSAARA, her soon-to-be-launched mentoring programme that’s meant to give an insider scoop on the industry and how to prep for it. Making Singapore her base recently (her partner lives here, and the city’s a popular destination for models-in-training), she’s crafting out workshops and videos on topics such as the dangers of the trade, coping with pressure, and even financial and career planning (it’s usually a short-lived profession, she stresses). Modelling school this is not, says the cool blonde, adding that she’s studying positive psychology to strengthen her agenda. “There’s demand for honest and relevant information about a job that so many dream about – but enough dreaming, let’s get the basics right first.”

Guo Leibing – Producer & Advocate Of “Weird” Music

Guo Leibing

Guo wears cotton blazer and pants, Hugo, and his own T-shirt and accessories. Photography Tan Wei Te Styling Adeline Eng.

By day, he has an office job. The rest of the time, this easy-going Gen Z, who moved here from China 17 years ago, is hatching out a near schizophrenic repertoire as a self-taught producer. Think infectious remixes that are explosive cocktails of Afrobeats, reggaeton, trance, rap and pop. Then there’s his first original single Untitled SEA Love Song, a plaintive Mandarin ballad dominated by his husky vocals, released in February. Asked to define his sound though, and he lapses into a discourse on Soundcloud, the audio-sharing platform typically associated with experimental independent musicians. “A general characteristic of music posted to Soundcloud is that it tends to be weird,” he says. “It might not be marketable, but there’s beauty in that, and it creates a community.” While Wanglianc11 – as he’s known on the platform – has drawn just 314 followers as of press time, he’s already making a name in the underground creative scene as a DJ (he was behind the atmospheric set of textile artist Shawna Wu’s performance piece last December). Like the Soundcloud artiste that he is, he has a one-word response when asked what sets him apart: “Feels.”

Oh! Open House – Fun Democratisers Of Art

For a decade, this independent organisation’s been redefining how to bring art to the public with its walkabout programmes that turn homes in some of the most charming neighbourhoods here into free-for-all galleries for commissioned works. Now, it’s taken things further with the homeowners playing the part of co-creators of the artworks. Dubbed Passport and revealed in March, the initiative pairs “hosts” with an artist who shares similar beliefs. Together, they come up with new works that are showcased in the former’s dwellings or district, resulting in an intimate, one-of-a-kind experience that melds art, heritage and the hosts’ personal narratives. Art ought to – and will increasingly – move out of its traditional confines and into more “unorthodox”, DIY settings, points out Lim Su Pei (right), assistant director of Oh! (she’s seen here with community manager Aletheia Tan and assistant curator Kirti Bhaskar Upadhyaya). With Passport, collaborative, personal stories get to be showcased in a creative manner, says Upadhyaya. Now who says art is intimidating?

Kin Leonn – Ambient Music’s Boy Wonder

kin leonn

Ho wears his own clothes. Photo Courtesy of Alif Ibrahim.

If ambient music should be – to quote its rock star of a pioneer Brian Eno – “as ignorable as it is interesting”, then the work of this 23-year-old (real name: Kin Leonn Ho) doesn’t quite fit the mould. It’s impossible to ignore the lush tunes off his six-month-old debut album Commune, each a sparkling, dream-like tapestry of classic and experimental instruments spanning the piano to Korg Minilogue synthesisers. True to the genre-bending style of his generation, he describes his work as “unintentionally maximalist”, with plenty of transitions within tracks. Against today’s non-stop assault of digital distractions, ambient music cannot remain its old “passive” self, he says. “It has to reinvent itself into something that can function on its own and is able to command active listening.” It’s what he’s already doing: BBC Radio Lancashire’s influential show On The Wire aired his music, while local independent label Kitchen. Label has signed him up as its youngest artiste yet.

 

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